If only for a few weeks, Prince William County has joined 58 other municipalities around Virginia in declaring itself a so-called Second Amendment sanctuary.
The resolutions across the state in recent weeks are an effort to shore up support for gun owners as a new Democratic majority takes control of the General Assembly in January, with gun law reforms near the top of the agenda.
There’s also a change in leadership coming in Prince William, and it could be the first county to overturn a sanctuary resolution.
The 6-2 Republican majority approved the resolution down party lines after hours of public comment. But new supervisors that will be sworn in Jan. 6 will flip control of the board to Democrats, with a 5-3 majority — and Chair-elect Ann Wheeler has already said the board will move to overturn the Second Amendment resolution.
Four of the six Republicans who voted for the resolution Tuesday night will not be on the board in January — three of them will be replaced by Democrats.
Hundreds of residents filled the county administration building Tuesday night. Out of the more than 100 people who spoke, only one spoke in opposition.
The resolution states that the board will oppose efforts to unconstitutionally restrict Second Amendment rights, as enshrined in the U.S. and state constitutions.
The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Support for the amendment has been the bedrock of many challenges to gun law reforms on the state and national levels.
Woodbridge resident Tracy Brown said she attended the meeting Tuesday because she wanted to show her support for the Second Amendment. She said possible state laws passed next year could be unconstitutional.
For her, the issue is about self defense.
“We are part of the sleeping giant,” she said. “I don’t feel that they should be able to take away our constitutional rights.”
Wearing a shirt with the Second Amendment written on it, county resident John Titus said he’s worried that a possible law could make gun owners criminals by banning assault rifles, which he said can be used for self defense or hunting.
“It’s a strong heritage in Virginia to bear arms,” he said. “And I felt it necessary to come out and show my support, especially with the new board [of county supervisors] in January.”
Titus said he is concerned about possible gun confiscation.
“I’m standing in a room full of people who are armed, I feel safer than I have all year long and I don’t know any of these people,” Titus said.
Gainesville resident Chris Gallmetzer said the Second Amendment is important to him, because he wants to ensure people can protect themselves from a tyrannical government.
Gallmetzer said a possible assault weapon ban would harm those who use the gun for lawful purposes, such as hunting.
“My collection is an investment,” he said.
Gallmetzer said the proposed gun control laws are not sensible.
“The laws would not have prevented Sandy Hook or any shooting,” he said. “It’s only hurting the law-abiding citizens who vote; they’re turning a lot of people into outlaws.”